A great deal of respect!
Fifty-four “UNESCO World Heritage Volunteers” projects take place this year worldwide. Since 2012 one exists also in Weimar. The project “Parks and Gardens of Classical Weimar” has as one’s aim the preservation of the green World Heritage sites of Weimar. Several path sections of the Belvedere Park could have already been restored to this day. In July I met 6 of the 15 volunteers who took part in the project this year at work:
Close to the “Large Grotto” surrounded by the summer green of the Belvedere Park, a group of six young people are working on a broad path. Equipped with shovels, spades and hoes, the two boys and four girls are removing the upper layer of earth to uncover the original route. In the end, their aim is to restore the former path.
“For the first three days, it was very exhausting,” says Carmen. The petite young woman travelled from Hong Kong to Weimar to participate in this “UNESCO World Heritage Volunteers” project.
“I actually do not bike in Hong Kong, especially I don´t cycle up to the top of a hill and afterwards, do this job for six hours. But then I realize what we are doing: We are digging up the path to make it to become usable for the next 30, 40 or 50 years. It has become a contribution for myself to this program.”
The 24-year-old student adds with a smile on her face, that the exchange with the other volunteers also makes the work much easier.
“I like that I can work at historical places and I like gardening too,” explains Michal, a volunteer from the Czech Republic, “the work is hard, but we don´t work too long and afterwards we have leisure time.“
In the afternoons, cultural educational programs and free time are mostly on the agenda for the international volunteers. They also get to go on trips like this year’s trip to Eisenach and three of their afternoons can be organized by themselves. So they can take the opportunity to visit the museums of Klassik Stiftung for free. “I really like the ‘Goethe Gartenhaus’”, shares Michal.
The young man, who studies law and political science, has applied for this project first and foremost because of the cultural heritage of Weimar:
The reasons for participating are very diverse. Teodora, a 21-year-old student from Serbia, explains, “at first, I thought it was interesting to do something different, but later as time passed by – cause I´m also working as a tour guide at home – I saw how things are and, unfortunately, in my country we do not really pay much attention to our cultural heritage. So I´m here to see, how you do it here.” Teodora finds, that she enjoys her stay here and especially she appreciates the new friendships she made. They are something she will take with her after the end of this project.
Moreover, she has acquired a lot of new knowledge and “also a great deal of respect for what people generally do every day with the preservation not only of cultural heritage but also of the city. It´s something you don’t really get to experience unless you do it the first time,” she emphasizes.
The idea behind the program of the “UNESCO World Heritage Volunteers” initiative is not only about the preservation of World Heritage sites and the acquirement of new skills, but it is also an intercultural exchange and understanding between people. But first and foremost, the main objectives of these projects’ are to mobilize young people to protect and preserve World Heritage and to raise awareness of this necessity among them and local communities. In the case of Carmen, these objectives are being met:
“In Hong Kong, the nature is mostly supported for the economy and not for itself,” says Carmen and adds with determination, “I really want to break the silence of how to preserve the nature, how to preserve our own culture, not only promoting the economic or monetary part of Hong Kong.”